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26th January 2011 GOODRICH SCHOOL PRESENT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

The Goodrich School PTFA have been working tirelessly over the past few months on this year's seasonal pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk which is being performed from today, Wednesday, 26th until Saturday, 29th January at Godric Hall, Goodrich. Advanced ticket sales for this traditionally popular event are proving exceptional with the Friday performance and the two on Saturday selling out within two days of their release last week.

Producers George Banks-Martin and Fiona Howe have brought together a cast combining more experienced thespians with newer parents; as well as directly involving pupils in the cast for the very first time. As ever, the scenery, costume, props, lighting and musical crews have produced a stage fitting for a show of overwhelming hilarity and drama that continues a long line of Goodrich School's panto traditions. Do go along to see it if you can!

Tickets are still available for the Wednesday and Thursday shows either directly from Goodrich School, 'Jollys', the Village Shop or from 'Ye Hostelrie'.


The talented cast of Jack and the Beanstalk.

26th January 2011 PHASE ONE OF LIBRARY REFURB NEARS COMPLETIONY.....

The first phase of Herefordshire Council's project to bring Ross library and customer services together on one site in the town is nearing completion.

As part of the 500,000 scheme at the current library site in Cantilupe Road, the first phase includes the installation of customer services facilities so staff can transfer to the site from their existing base at Swan House. New customer services will be delivered from the site from Monday, 28th February. Work will then start on the second phase of the project.

This involves much more structural work in the main library area, including installation of a ramp so the building complies with the Disability Discrimination Act, works to the front counter, creating the Dennis Potter exhibition space, staff offices, work areas and a lift. During the second phase, due to be completed by early May, library and customer service opening hours may have to be altered to allow for Monday opening of the library and Saturday opening of customer services.

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw of Herefordshire Council said, 'I would like to thank all library users for bearing with us while this work is being carried out but am sure residents will be delighted with the end result. In designing the new facility, we have taken on board comments from both members of the public and staff. Ross library is one of our most popular with some 12,000 visitors every month and I hope people will continue to support the facility as well as customers using our Info centre.'


26th January 2011 TEMPORARY LIBRARY CLOSURES....................

Some of the county's libraries will close for part of the day on Wednesday, 2nd February to allow staff to take part in a planning session for the library service. Herefordshire Council is currently developing a strategy for the library service and its staff have an important role to play in this process.

Principal Library Officer, Jon Chedgzoy said, 'We are developing our strategy and it is vital that staff have an opportunity to contribute to this. We don't close our libraries lightly but this was too important a moment to miss and the only way to ensure all staff have an opportunity to contribute.'

Bromyard and Kington libraries will be open for the usual times on the 2nd but of those other libraries which are usually open on a Wednesday, Colwall, Hereford and Ledbury will not open until 2.30pm while Ross and Leominster libraries will open at 3pm.


26th January 2011 FEATHERED FUN IN HIGH TOWN.....................

If you are looking for some family friendly fun, then head to Hereford High Town this weekend for a free range of activities suitable for all ages. The RSPB is promoting the world's biggest ever wildlife survey, the Big Garden Birdwatch and invites you to go along and get involved.

To celebrate this annual event, and to raise awareness of the issues facing garden birds during the cold weather, the RSPB is hosting a weekend of fun and activities between 10am and 4pm, on Saturday, 29th and Sunday, 30th January. The activities will include making dragonflies and wildlife masks, creating bird feeders and other wildlife craft activities. All the activities are free of charge and open to all. The RSPB will also have a separate marquee hosting their mobile gift shop and an opportunity for people to support the charity.

Tim Town, the RSPB's Membership Development Officer said, 'Big Garden Birdwatch is great for the whole family. By giving up just one hour over the weekend, you can make a real difference to the knowledge of garden birds; which are doing well and which need help. Past surveys have enabled the RSPB to identify the cause of certain birds' decline as well as steps you can take to help them recover. Last year the house sparrow topped the chart in Herefordshire gardens, come into Hereford, on the 29th or 30th and visit us to find out how you can join in.'


19th January 2011 JESSE SLAMS PUTSON TESCO IN COMMONS DEBATE ....

Hereford MP Jesse Norman, speaking on the Localism Bill in Parliament, has cited the forthcoming Tesco on Holme Lacy Road as a 'perfect example' of abuse of the current planning system.

The campaign to stop the Putson store going ahead, involving Jesse and local councillors Chris Chappell, Ursula Attfield and Aubrey Oliver, has failed because of a legal loophole. Because both pubs and supermarkets are zoned as B2, no change of use consent was required under the current planning rules to turn the Gamecock into a supermarket.

Jesse took a stand against the development early on, first writing to Tesco Chief Executive, Sir Terry Leahy back in September 2010, and is well known for his work running the county wide 'Support Our Small Shops' campaign to promote small local retailers.

'This Tesco,' said Jesse, 'will seriously damage small local shops like Stokes and Greenflynns, and turns what could have been a community asset into yet another national chain store. It is hugely disappointing. Under the new Localism Bill this development should be much harder to push through against the strong wishes of local people. Communities will have the right to put forward bids to take over assets of community value like pubs if they come up for sale. But sadly the new Bill has come too late to save the Gamecock.'


26th January 2011 HOME IMPROVEMENT AGENCY LANDS AWARD.........

A Herefordshire Council agency which carries out adaptations and repairs that allow people to remain independent in their own home has been awarded the National Home Improvement Agency Quality Mark. The agency, also known as You at Home, is one of the first in the country to undertake and be accredited in all modules of the new award and was complimented on the extensive range of services and the high level of satisfaction reported by its customers.

'The surveyors and caseworkers were praised for the support they offer to clients from the initial assessment of their needs, to the identification of funding options, referring to other agencies such as the Pensions Service and liaising with contractors and other health professionals,' said Denise Bradley Lloyd, Private Sector Housing Manager. 'The team was also praised for its good working relationships with health and social care professionals such as Occupational Therapists, and its demonstration of awareness of preventative services.'

Elizabeth Weller, who contacted the agency on behalf of her brother said, 'The You at Home service is crucial to vulnerable people and enables them to live independently, saving money in the long term. It's an amazingly good service for elderly people who can't do small jobs themselves and a life saver to relatives like me who live a long way away.'

The agency Handyperson service has also gained Trust Mark Accreditation, which is an initiative between government, consumer groups and industry designed to protect consumers from rogue trades people and help people find reputable firms to do repair, maintenance and improvement work inside and outside the home. The Handyperson service carries out small adaptations such as ramps, half steps, hand rails, home safety and security work, and a wide range of small repairs that contribute to people remaining independent when they are unable to carry repairs or to ensure they can return home from hospital.

The Agency is able to offer a benefit check, ensuring that service users are aware of the benefits they are entitled to and assisting them with claims.


26th January 2011 COUNCIL PLANS TO FREEZE COUNCIL TAX...........

Herefordshire Council is to freeze council tax, cut management costs and slash red tape but will safeguard most front line services, despite unprecedented cuts to the government financial settlement for local authorities.

Last week, the cabinet approved a new financial strategy designed to save 10.3 million in the coming financial year and 5.8 million in the following year. It means 250 jobs, including over 30 management posts, will go across the council over the next two years, reflecting the massive reduction in the public sector workforce seen across the UK. The council will also save money by sharing several corporate functions with the primary care trust and the county hospital. The council aims to protect the services depended on by the most vulnerable in the community and the budget includes an extra 3.5 million for adult social care, including 2.4 million transferred from NHS Herefordshire.

The cut in government funding affects concessionary bus fares but the cabinet agreed to use some of its financial reserves to retain free travel for bus pass holders, although free travel will no longer be available during the weekday morning commuter period before 9.30am. Carers travelling with disabled people will be able to continue to travel for free during the free period.

The changes are expected to come into operation in March this year. However, government's cutting of the bus operators' subsidy by 20 per cent means the council will need to work hard to protect services to rural and remote areas, and aims to consult communities over the spring and summer. The budget also means that unlike many other areas of the country, Herefordshire will hold on to its existing libraries but the mobile library service is undergoing a review.

Leader of the council, councillor Roger Phillips said, 'Our strategy is to cut the cost of services, rather than the services themselves. We have an unprecedented level of government cuts that we have to absorb but we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact on those front line services that are valued across the county.

Herefordshire Council has been planning its response to reduced government funding for some time and is already well advanced in redesigning its structure and services. The council will be a smaller but more efficient organization in two years time, whilst retaining its focus on ensuring that essential services are delivered for the people of Herefordshire.'


26th January 2011 WITNESS TO ASSAULT ASKED TO COME FORWARD.......

Police are appealing for an important witness to an assault which took place in Hereford to come forward.

At 7.50am on Tuesday, 4th January, a woman driving along Attwood Lane stopped at the junction with Roman Road when she was approached by a man. He appeared drunk and was agitated, and he attempted to speak to her. She tried to drive off but was unable to because of traffic. The man picked up a two foot long wooden stake that was lying nearby and hit the roof of her car. The woman's window was ajar and he shoved the stake through the window, hitting her arm twice as she defended herself. The man then walked to rear of the car and continued to hit it with the stake before walking off towards Centurion Way. At this point a man driving a Land Rover stopped and asked the woman if she was alright.

PC Jackie White of Hereford Police Station said, 'The lady was not inured in this disturbing incident, but was left quite distressed. It is important for our investigation to trace the man driving the Land Rover. He left the scene without leaving his details and hasn't contact the police. We have tried to find him as part of our inquiries, but without luck so we are appealing for him to come forward.

I would also like to appeal to anyone else who witnessed this incident to come forward. This was the first day back to work after the New Year break and quite a few commuters would have passed the incident as they drove along Roman Road and Attwood Lane.'

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC White via the West Mercia Police non-emergency number, 0300 333 3000. You can also pass on information anonymously via the Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111.

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